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Cubs prospect Miguel Amaya: trade chip or keeper?

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Amaya is one of the Cubs’ top prospects. What is his value to the team?

Miguel Amaya bats during an Arizona Fall League game
Photo by Buck Davidson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

In his own way, Miguel Amaya is as divisive as any Cubs prospect. Cubs fans who think the front office owes the fans another solid run or two at the post-season the next two season rightfully see him as a trade piece. People that assess 2022 and 2024 as years not that dissimilar from 2020 or 2021 want to keep him long-term. Which can lead to strife among the supporters. Simply, Amaya has more intrigue to the other 29 teams than many more well-known Cubs players.

When talking about catchers, I default to whether a backstop is bat-first (Taylor Davis) or glove first (Koyie Hill, perhaps?). With some (Victor Caratini, maybe?), the distinction is less obvious. With Amaya, he's a two-way catcher. Pitchers love to throw to him. His BP sessions are fun to watch. It isn't that he's a certainty, but it's tough to find what he can't do.

When discussing managerial options, I was on Team Joe Espada. That said, I hope Amaya is within chatting range of David Ross as often as possible. Every assessment I've heard is that Amaya is a sponge, lifting knowledge from anyone at any time. A willing learner, who has skills to match, is an asset I can't really want to be elsewhere.

Amaya should be in Double-A Tennessee in April. He should hit in a priority spot in the lineup, and start behind the dish four times a week, when able. Toss in a game at designated hitter or first base, and he should get 500 trips to the plate in 2020. If you wish to be aware of the Cubs’ future in 2020, you should know Amaya's vital signs, as the plan was in 2019 with Nico Hoerner.

Amaya just completed a stint in the Arizona Fall League. While his raw numbers were a bit ordinary, he's quite used to being two years younger than the pitchers he hits against. He will be further up the ladder when Top 100 Prospect lists come out. He could fetch a useful piece, because he's considered a decent wager on MLB success.

Some will want to trade Amaya, and count on success from the next wave of catching talent, from international options Ronnier Quintero and Brayan Altuve to draft selection Ethan Hearn. My take is that I don't think any pieces collected for Amaya would put the Cubs at 10 percent to hoist a flag in 2020 or 2021. With long odds like that, I'd prefer to retain Amaya, regardless which other moves are or aren't made. Having a catcher who is good at digging pitches, calling a game, controlling base thieves, and being a threat at the plate is an oddity in my time following the Cubs. That teammates talk about him like he's a mature 28-year-old makes it that much more enticing.

Catcher is a brutally demanding position. In my vision of the future, teams will plan on having two valid options on the MLB club, with one in-training. Developing catchers is about locating and developing. Shame on clubs that don't do so, with so many competent catchers now at the collegiate levels.

Amaya could be learning rather soon behind Caratini or Willson Contreras. If all three appear MLB-usable at some point, one can be used as a trade inducer. Deciding to do so too early can lead to "not having a proper reserve option" at some point. Or, yet again, rushing a player to MLB earlier than desired. I'm in favor of keeping all three until someone offers more for one of them than they're worth.

But, not Amaya. I'm not sure what a two-way catcher that plays beyond his years is worth.